Of all the user reviews on Amazon regarding Edan’s Beauty and the Beat, the same complaint keeps showing up, no matter how much somebody likes the album: it’s too short. It’s a valid concern, considering the album is just shy of 35 minutes, but with so much filler in hip-hop albums, it’s refreshing to see a straight shot of purely enjoyable, filler-less music. But let’s be real, now, length of an album is only a problem when it’s too long or if none of the songs are given enough time to fully develop. The songs on Edan’s standout second album may not be too lengthy, but they succeed in taking the listener on a wild, hip-hop journey, if only for a short time.
A Boston native, Edan currently resides in the UK, which may be the reason that his music is so versed in psychedelia. Beauty and the Beat is like the entire Def Jux roster run through filters of Sgt. Peppers and Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Never before has a hip-hop album been at once so fresh, so joyous and so outlandish at the same time. Certainly there are exceptions, such as the debuts by Madvillain and Dr. Octagon. But Edan does something completely different altogether. Instead of taking cues from science fiction or comic books, he revisits classic hip-hop and rock albums and cranks out a truly unique hip-hop classic.
“I See Colors” offers a strange Eminem-meets-Pet Sounds combo of sunny psych-pop and lyrical skills, while “Rock And Roll” marries Edan’s verse to gigantic beats and crunchy guitars. “The Science of the Two” is delightfully old-school, straight down to the Atari samples, and “Making Planets,” which features Mr. Lif, samples a “Hey Joe” bassline to great effect. Two of my personal favorites are “Funky Voltron,” which includes the hilarious lyric, “someone throws a baby/oh shit/do a spin move and catch it/the crowd goes crazy,” and the super catchy history lesson “Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme,” that pays respect by offering the lines, “pump your fist/but give praise to the true scientists.” It does end quickly, though, so you may need to start it up again after it’s over, just to give yourself a chance to soak in all of the complex layers of sound in this one visionary and mind-blowing record.
People Under the Stairs – O.S.T.
Mr. Lif – I, Phantom
Sage Francis – A Healthy Distrust
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.